The Troy High School Class of 1974 will be holding its 40th reunion this year. I would like to say that our graduation seemed like it was only yesterday, but I would be lying. It seems more like 40 years ago.
A lot has happened in the 40 years since I walked out of Hobart Arena clutching my diploma in my hand. A lot of those changes have happened in Troy itself.
Consider this: Forty years ago, the only thing west of the interstate was a solitary Shell gas station. No shopping centers, no housing developments. It was fields and a few scattered houses from here to Covington.
There was no Duke Park. No Hobart Urban Nature Preserve. No bike path.
True, the high school and Hobart Arena and Troy Memorial Stadium all were there, but none of them in the transformed state that they exist today. There was one gym at the high school and the various basketball teams and gymnastics teams always were fighting over gym time. This caused no end of frustration for the basketball players because we thought we owned the gym. On the other hand, there was some benefit to sitting around and watching certain gymnasts practice while we were waiting to use the gym.
All the varsity basketball games were played at Hobart Arena. Our locker room was a little closet of a space with a tiny shower.
There was no Strawberry Festival. The Hayner Cultural Center wasn’t the Hayner Cultural Center — it was the Troy library. It also was the quietest place in town. The only thing you could hear in that library was the grandfather clock. If you so much as sniffled, the librarians would track you down and throw you out the door, kind of like desperadoes getting thrown out of the saloon in westerns. Life was tough back in the old days.
The biggest changes aren’t in the buildings and the events, though. The biggest changes are in the way I look at things after 40 years.
When I was 18, anyone who was 40 was old, anyone who was 50 was ancient and anyone older than 60 … well, it was just hard to imagine. I thought Troy was boring and we always had too much time on our hands. I was glad to get out of high school because it was boring and I was boring and life was boring.
Well, here it is 40 years later and suddenly I am approaching that 60-year-old category. I now think that anyone who is 40 is young, anyone who is 50 is lucky and 60 really doesn’t look so bad. As a matter of fact, 80 still seems like a pretty useful age to me. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
What’s more, somewhere way back there soon after I graduated from high school I misplaced that boring thing. The older you get, the faster the time goes — I’d like to have a little more time these days. I thought when my children grew up, graduated from high school and moved out I would have time on my hands. It seems like now I am busier than ever.
Most of all, I think I appreciate things a little more now. Every spring seems a little precious, every flower a little brighter, every blade of grass a little greener (and a little taller — I don’t remember grass growing so fast back in the old days). I might have a lot to do, but now I can take some time out to ride a bicycle just to ride it and see where it takes me other than to just get somewhere. I can take a walk with my wife and we can talk about all sorts of things, even including Troy 40 years ago, when I sat in the gym and waited for her to finish practice so the basketball players could take back their rightful ownership of the gym.
So, 40 years later, here’s what I’ve learned: Time goes quickly, so stop every once in a while and take a look around. Don’t let little things ruin your life. Don’t let big things ruin your life. To the Class of 2014: Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating (if that’s the right word) your 40th on. I suspect you’ll have a different view of the world. I probably will, too; let’s see, I’ll be 98 years old by then, so look me up and I’ll tell you what to expect.